Post-COVID shopper conversion on the rise as m1nd-set tracks shopper trends past and present

Fewer travelers are visiting airport stores post-COVID-19, but more of those who do enter the stores are buying, says Swiss travel and travel retail market research agency m1nd-set in its latest consumer research findings.

International travelers in these post-COVID-19 days are more likely to convert into buyers than they have been in recent years, according to m1nd-set.

Comparing shopper behavior in airports over the past five years, m1nd-set tracks he pre-COVID era to the present day. The research agency’s latest analysis compares the evolution of footfall and conversion rates and changes in the categories purchased. The research also tracks the evolution and variations over the years in why people purchase in travel retail, what triggered the purchase and some of the barriers to purchase.

Among the key findings, m1nd-set found that while conversion (share of duty free buyers out of duty free visitors) had been decreasing since 2017, from 66% to 52% in 2020, the percentage of shoppers making a purchase in duty free and travel retail stores rose again in 2021 to reach the same levels as in 2018 (59%). However, the research shows a clear downward trend in footfall over this period. Airports have lost 5% of passengers according to the passenger feedback between 2017 and 2021. While 42% of travelers globally say they entered the duty free and other retail shops in 2017, the percentage fell to 37% in Q1 2021.

The categories passengers are buying and their purchase planning also changed. Global travelers in 2021 are more likely to purchase categories they planned in advance.

For the Perfumes category, 41% of shoppers purchased in 2021 vs 31% on average when considering all previous four years, an increase of 10%.

For Fashion & Accessories, there is a 7% increase in 2021 compared to the previous years, (22% vs 15%), 6% for Skincare (25% vs 19%) and Jewellery &

Watches (14% vs 8%), 5% for Tobacco (22% vs 17%) and 4% for Make-up (20% vs 16%). For all these categories, the significant majority of shoppers – between 75% and 90% depending on the category – plan their purchases.

The percentage of shoppers in duty free and travel retail planning their purchases had been decreasing steadily since 2017, from 80% to 75% in 2020. In 2021, however, this trend has been reversed — 86% of shoppers say they will plan their purchases to at least some extent when traveling. They are less likely to purchase completely on impulse, however, with a decline from 25% of shoppers purchasing on impulse in 2020 to 14% in 2021.

m1nd-set Owner & CEO Peter Mohn comments: “The global footfall and conversion trends over the past five years are very interesting to see, as there are still more than 40% of store visitors who need to be enticed to spend, not to mention the 63% of all passengers who do not enter the shops.”

More interesting still, Mohn continued, “are the non-visitor and non-shopper customer segments. In the post-pandemic environment, the reasons for not visiting or shopping at an airport have, without question, evolved and will be quite different to the reasons for not-shopping expressed in 2017.

“It’s important to underline though that while the global data demonstrated here paints a general picture, the realities will inevitably vary from one airport to another; even between terminals at the same airport. It is vital to approach these consumer insights from a regional-specific, market by market and even airport specific perspective. Each retailer and airport need to understand the reasons behind the barriers to visiting and shopping in the retail stores,” Mohn concluded.

The research data revealed here reflect global trends. More detailed data on the regional or national market tendencies are available upon request from m1nd-set.

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